We all know that kinescopes, which we love because they give us recordings of classic programs that would otherwise be lost, still leave something to be desired when it comes to reproducing the "night of broadcast" look and sound. The process, which quite literally consists of a movie camera recording the picture right off the tube, turns a live telecast into a film, taking away the immediacy of what it would have felt like when seeing the original broadcast as it happened.
The technique used by NBN, called "motion interpolation," is intended to restore the videotape look and sound, allowing us to imagine what it would have been like seeing that live broadcast. It also cleans up and sharpens both the audio and video quality, allowing us to see and hear details that may well have been hidden since the original production. So far, NBN has uploaded four restorations, and while the Studio One broadcasts of "Wuthering Heights" and "Sentence of Death" are very good, you'll get the biggest impact from the other two broadcasts.
The first is Playhouse 90's landmark "Requiem for a Heavyweight," with a brilliant script by Rod Serling and terrific performances from Jack Palance, Keenan Wynn, and his father Ed. Watch this video from the beginning to get an idea of what a difference this restoration makes.
The second is 1957's Cinderella, by Rodgers and Hammerstein, starting the young and luminous Julie Andrews in the title role. The original broadcast of Cinderella was, to that point, the most-watched program in the history of television - over 100 million saw that live telecast.
Watching these programs was a real eye-opener for me - although we're certainly able to ascertain the quality of these broadcasts based on the kinescopes, we're now able to actually replicate the feel of seeing them as they happened - to see them the way they were meant to be seen, to appreciate them the way the original audiences did, to feel the drama of actors performing live for a national television audience. It's a powerful, as well as delightful, way for classic television to come alive - and I dare you to convince yourself as you watch them that they aren't live.